Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bites Names a Winner to Help Judge the Nashville Street Food Awards

Posted By on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 12:25 PM

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The powers that be over at random.org have chosen the winner for a spot on the judges' panel for the Nashville Street Food Awards: commenter No. 10, Barbara Please! Barbara, please send me an email at lesley [at] lesleyeats.com with your contact information so I can forward it to the judging panel coordinator. And be sure to clear your calendar and choose your finest stretchy pants for this Saturday around lunch time.

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. Even if you didn't win a spot on the judges' panel, you should still come out to the festival (and maybe watch some of the judging). But note some important changes from the past awards.

First, the event will be at the Nashville Farmers' Market instead of Centennial Park. So, in addition to all the food truck fun — which includes activities for the kids, craft beers, and live entertainment from The Cremonas and Deep Fried Five (and more) — you can also shop for food, plants, and the other great items available every Saturday at the market. Second, this event will be even bigger than last year. Nashville's food truck community is growing stronger all the time and there are eight new trucks participating this year for a total of 35 trucks. That's a huge selection of food truck fare to choose from. I suggest getting there early with a group of likeminded friends who like to share and spend the day grazing.

Third Annual Nashville Street Food Awards
Saturday, Aug. 30
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Nashville Farmers' Market (north end)
900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.
Free admission

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Paula Deen Talks Sweetbreads, Butter and Why She and Dolly Should Totally Be Friends

Posted By on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 8:51 AM

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I don’t cook, so I don’t really know much about Paula Deen, other than that she really likes butter, and that her pants fell down on live TV one time. So, when presented with the opportunity to interview her for her Aug. 27 appearance at TPAC, I thought, hey, I just might learn something!

When corresponding with her people, they initially requested an email interview, which I politely declined, because those are no fun. As Deen’s people are clearly accustomed to putting out fires that happen outside the kitchen, they are now on in full fire prevention mode. They acquiesced to a phoner if I presented the questions in advance. Now, that's not so out-of-the-ordinary with interviews; I understand a subject wanting to know what ground will be covered so he or she is adequately prepared, but it was the following caveat that made me a little wary:

"We do kindly request that you keep all questions focused on Paula Deen Live! and the Paula Deen Network — nothing about the past."

This incited a flashback to my senior year in high school, when the principal asked to see my graduation speech a week before the ceremony.

“If you even stray one word from this speech,” she warned me, looking me dead in the eye, “I will cut the microphone. No funny business, Abby.”

I had recently been nearly arrested for underage drinking in one of Peoria’s fine public parks and was at risk of losing a college scholarship, so I wasn’t about to rock the boat. But nearly 20 years later, I still bristle when someone tells me I can’t talk about something. That being said, I must still fear the wrath of my high school principal — or maybe Paula Deen's people — because I decided not to talk about Anthony Bourdain, diabetes or Southern plantation-style weddings. Besides, there is plenty of other stuff to chat about with the Queen of Butter, right?

Paula called me from her home in Savannah, and throughout our brief convo, I did manage to learn something quite scandalous without having to approach any of the aforementioned subjects. Nashville, Paula Deen has NEVER tried hot chicken. Not only that, it didn't even sound like she'd heard of it. Friends, we cannot let this slide. When she's in town, can somebody please stage a hot chickenvention?

We also chatted about her new digital network that's launching this fall, how she and Dolly should be friends, why potatoes are awesome, and the time she thought sweetbreads were cinnamon rolls, after the jump.

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Porta Via Introduces New Salads, Pastas and Pizzas

Posted By on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 7:52 AM

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  • @eatatportovia
Even though it’s still summer — and still very hot — it’s now the time of year when many restaurants begin to change up their menus in response to the availability of produce. And sometimes restaurants make adjustments to accommodate customer preferences or give the chefs a chance to stretch their legs a bit.

Porta Via has recently added a number of new items, including salads, entrées and pizzas. I stopped by the West Nashville location last week to check them out. New salads include an antipasto salad featuring salami and prosciutto, a vegetarian portobello salad that can easily be made dairy-free without the goat cheese, and a chopped kale salad that can be vegetarian if ordered without the bacon. On the entrée menu, there’s a new pappardelle clam dish that features house-made noodles made with sriracha. If clams aren’t your thing, you can order the pappardelle with any of the other sauces (or just butter or olive oil). Among the new pizzas is a vegetarian version that features vegetables and smoked gouda.

I tried several of the new menu items during my visit. I love pizza, so I ordered the vegetarian pizza on the gluten-free crust. I’m not on a GF diet, but their gluten-free crust — made from a combination of potato, fava bean, and garbanzo bean flours — is just so good. The vegetables were great (and didn’t make the pizza soggy), but the addition of the gouda was the best part. I also sampled some of the pappardelle (minus clams) with just a little butter and cheese, and they were really good, though I think they need something with a bit more kick than just butter and cheese to make them great (clams, perhaps).

But the item I liked best — which really surprised me — was the kale salad. The kale in the salad was not pulverized, but chopped into just-less-than-bite-size pieces and massaged to remove any bitterness. And it must be made from baby kale or some magic kale I've not tried before, because the mild taste and light texture (though not its deep-green appearance) more resembled a leafy green lettuce.

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Moldovan Wines Are Bargain European Finds

Posted By on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 6:50 AM

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Of course you're celebrating Moldovan Independence today, right? I rarely even thought of the Eastern European country until Will Motley at Woodland Wine Merchant introduced me to some of the great inexpensive wines produced in the small country tucked between Romania and Ukraine. Given Russian boycotting of Moldovan wines, the country is looking to accelerate exports to the United States, and we can definitely be the beneficiaries.

After checking out some of the facts, it shouldn't be surprising that viniculture in Moldova is a big deal. The country actually has the densest concentration of vineyard lands in the world, with over 7 percent of all arable land planted with grapes. The indigenous varietals include Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Neagra, Rara Neagra, Traminer and Saperavi, but Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc also grow well in the rolling hills and centuries-old vineyards.

Almost 25 percent of the country’s workforce is employed by the wine industry in one form or another, and Moldova’s wine industry accounts for 3.2 percent of the gross domestic product and 7.5 percent of its total exports, so that shows some real commitment. But most importantly, how are the wines?

In a word, excellent. In another word, affordable. Those two factors alone make it worth asking your local merchant for some Moldovans to try, and the sheer breadth of their offerings means you might encounter a fruity sparkler like Cricova Grand Vintage or a dry white Riesling de Rhein from Fautor that could easily fool you into thinking you're drinking some of Germany's finest.

An interesting experiment is to try a standard grape varietal like Cab Sauv or Chardonnay and compare it to a French counterpart to see which you prefer, especially for the money.

Another category where Moldovan wines stand out is with dessert wines. These late-harvest wines are often quite pricey from other European and American wineries, but the range of Moldovan options available for less than $20 means you can start experimenting with serving wine after the meal instead of just before and during. Plus, they sometimes have really cool bottles like the Stradivari pictured with this post.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Incredible Dave's is Gone, But You Can Now Build the Ultimate Man Cave

Posted By on Mon, Aug 25, 2014 at 10:36 AM

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  • Nemo is sad.
I know, I know ... Incredible Dave's was open? Yes, the Dave and Buster's clone did actually exist near Rivergate for several years, but has given up the ghost leaving thousands of unredeemed skeeball tickets and unclaimed Chinese fingercuffs left behind.

But thanks to a liquidation auction by McClemore Auction Co., anybody can now purchase all the makings of a restaurant, arcade or badass man cave. In addition to items like pizza ovens, industrial ranges and real imitation leather sofas, there are 60 high-definition televisions for sale, many for less than a hundred bucks.

I'm thinking of buying a pay-to-play pool table just to make a little extra change off of my friends. Then I'll use that money to buy a bouncy house or some bumper cars.

The auction closes tomorrow, so if you want to furnish your own fun emporium, get to bidding!

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The Nashville Beer Event Calendar Runneth Over

Posted By on Mon, Aug 25, 2014 at 7:06 AM

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There may be no harder-working group of entrepreneurs in the It City than our talented bunch of craft brewers. In addition to working long hours filling their fermenters with gallons of delicious suds, these folks are constantly out in the public eye raising awareness of Nashville's growing craft beer community and introducing Bud/Miller/Coors drinkers to new styles of brews. I recently dropped by Jackalope on the afternoon when the small staff had just finished up a multi-day session of eight consecutive brews to keep up with the demand for their products, and despite hours and hours without sleep, the brew crew was as cordial and excited as you could ever imagine.

So it's nice when the Nashville brewmasters get a chance to enjoy a little time amongst their fans just drinking and talking about their passion. Jackalope will be the guests of honor at Two Bits' monthly beer dinner tomorrow night, Tuesday, Aug. 26, starting at 7 p.m. at their Music Row location, 1520 Demonbreun St. The dinner, which costs $35, will feature four courses of chef Rachel Cannon's upscale pub fare paired with beers from Jackalope.

Here's the menu:

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Music City Festival and BBQ Championship Moves to Fairgrounds for This Weekend's Festivities

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 10:25 AM

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Last year, the organizers of the Music City Festival and BBQ Championship had to scramble at the last minute to rejigger their event site thanks to the construction of the new Riverfront Amphitheater. This year, they planned ahead and have moved the music and food festival to the Tennessee State Fairgrounds for their sixth edition.

In addition to the regular lineup of both KCBS and MBN barbecue competitions, plus a People's Choice category, the festival will feature music on Friday night and from 2:30 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, with the fabulous Etta Britt headlining and closing the show. They've added a Biergarten which will serve brews from Fat Bottom, Leinenkugel, Blue Moon and Batch 19 from opening to close both days of the festival.

Also new this year, the festival has been selected by National Barbecue News magazine to host a “Taster’s Row," offering a great opportunity to taste competition barbecue with a variety of sauces from various regions around the country and to participate in the definitive BBQ Sauce Judging. All festival ticket holders will have the opportunity to taste and judge each region in a blind judging format, and then the votes will be tabulated and published in National Barbecue News.

Taster's Row will be open in Saturday, Aug. 23, from 2 to 4 p.m., with special tickets to participate sold at the Taster's Row tent for $7, cash or credit. For that fee, you'll receive six samples of barbecue and different sauces, so it sounds like a pretty good deal.

Tickets for the both days of the festival are $10, and daily passes are also available at the event website. You can also purchase tickets to the Smoking Hot tent, an all-inclusive area where food is served at scheduled times and there is unlimited beer and water on Friday night and Saturday. The food will be catered by Paradise Ridge Catering and includes barbecue, chicken, appetizers and sides. You do not have to purchase a separate general admission ticket.

If you're a smoked meat aficionado, the fairgrounds sounds like a great destination this weekend!

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Try Out the Sunday Special at Josephine

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 8:07 AM

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My girlfriend is a kindergarten teacher, so it can get a little hectic around our household in the weeks leading up to and after the start of a new school year. She told me, "To a kindergarten teacher, every day in August is a Sunday." Y'know, days heralding that uncomfortable feeling of dread knowing how much you have to get done before the next day begins and sucks up all your free time.

So Sundays are the prefect time to let somebody else do the cooking for you. The kitchen at Josephine at 2316 12th Ave. S. wants to take at least one task off your to-do list with their new Sunday chicken special. Taking advantage of the influx of great tomatoes at this time of year, Josephine is offering a tomato salad with tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, basil, grilled bread and vinaigrette plus two pieces of expertly fried chicken and a beer for a flat rate of $15.

The deal is available only at the bar on Sundays starting at 5 p.m. until they run out of chicken. if you're looking for a way to finish off the weekend with some great comfort food, give it a try.

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Weekly Open Thread: OK, Now We Have Food Trucks — How About Food Bikes?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 7:02 AM

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The Scene got a visit earlier this week from Cayla Mackey, an intrepid entrepreneur working to launch Taco Bike, a bicycle that will roam the neighborhoods of Nashville serving organic, local, sustainable breakfast tacos.

Mackey shared some samples: migas tacos, with scrambled eggs, tortilla crumbs and Monterey jack cheese in a fresh tortilla, and papas tacos, featuring roasted potatoes and black beans, also wrapped in a fresh tortilla. She also included sides of her super-spicy salsa verde and a flavorful mild red salsa.

Like many entrepreneurial Nashvillians, Mackey has put the Taco Bike project on Kickstarter, hoping to raise $10,000 by Sept. 1. She's more than halfway there.

Full disclosure: Mackey, a Vanderbilt grad, was a Scene intern a few years ago. But I'm pretty sure Bites would be excited about Taco Bike even if we didn't know the particular entrepreneur in the driver's seat.

And it got me thinking. We've been lucky enough to develop a pretty lively food-truck scene. Some of our food trucks have even become restaurants (Mas Tacos made it to bricks and mortar, and soon Biscuit Love and Smokin Thighs will follow suit.)

Food bikes are another trend around the country, quieter and less polluting than trucks, and able to slip in and out of neighborhoods without the need to secure a giant parking space.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Nashville Neighborhoods Celebration Hosting Friendly Competitions Among Neighbors

Posted By on Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 1:18 PM

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Mark your calendars and get out your cookbooks to get ready for the Nashville Neighborhoods Celebration on Saturday, Sept. 13. Along with a “neighborhood showcase,” there will be activities for kids, demonstrations from the Community Garden Showcase, live music, food and competitions among neighbors for the best chili, best salsa, and best jam, jelly, preserve, or fruit butter as part of the event’s “fair in the city.”

For the chili competition, gather two or three of your most talented friends from the 'hood to create a winning team. After winners are announced, competitors will give away complimentary portions of their chili entries to attendees. The salsa and preserve competitions can also be entered by teams of folks, but the rules are different for each of the three contests.

The Neighborhoods Celebration is being hosted by the folks at the Neighborhoods Resource Center as a way to promote the many different neighborhoods around town.

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